Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Elder and Older

Elder vs Older

“Elder” and “older” are two nouns and adjectives used to refer to nouns (especially persons) that are advanced in age or in an earlier birth order. These expressions also connote status and in extension privileges and impressions among a group of people, usually in a family or in the general population.

The term “elder” is used when comparing the age of three or more persons. The word in itself is the base form, and its only comparative form is its superlative, the word “eldest.” In using this term, there is no need to emphasize the age of the persons involved. Aside from being an expression of respect, the word is also given as a title to a person which has a high rank, position, or stature in a specific group of people. Elders are thought to be authority figures and inspire wisdom, respect, leadership, and solidarity.

In terms of structure, “elder” is placed before a noun. Since it is a base form, it cannot be followed by the term “than” in comparison with other entities. As a base form, it can have a plural form depending on its context. “Elder” is rarely used today and usually only in formal occasions. The word originated from Old English “eldra” and evolved into Middle English “eldre” before its modern form. It has been in usage before the 12th century.

On the other hand, the word “older” is also an expression used to compare people in terms of age. However, the term is already in its comparative form. Its base is from “old” while its superlative form is “oldest.” The term is also used not only on persons but also on things. When used in a people context, the comparison is usually between two people only. There is great emphasis on age.

Unlike “elder,” “older” can follow or precede a noun in a sentence or in usage. The term is more familiar and commonly used in these modern times compared to “elder.” “Older” derives its etymology from its base word “old” which is the evolved from (Middle English) and the Old English “eald.” Like “elder,” it has been used since the advent of the 12th century.


1.Both “elder” and “older” are expressions to describe a gap in age usually, and the presence of a large number in comparison. Both terms are classified as nouns and adjectives.
2.“Elder” is a base form in itself, and its only form is its superlative, “eldest.” Meanwhile, “older” is the comparative form of “old,” and it progresses to “oldest” as its superlative form.
3.“Elder” is used when there are three persons involved while “older” is used generally for two persons in its context. In addition, “older” is also used on comparing things.
4.Apart from its usage as a noun and an adjective, the term “elder” is also used as a title for people who are well-respected and with a high position in their communities or groups.
5.Both terms are used in different contexts. In more formal occasions, the term “elder” is used in addressing or describing people of a certain age while the word “older” is used in a more contemporary context. It is more common to use and hear than the former “elder.”
6.Another distinction between “elder” and “older” is their placement in a sentence. “Elder” is used before a noun. 7.Meanwhile, “older” can be used before and after a noun. In contrast, “elder” doesn’t need the modifier “than” to be used in a comparative usage. The same is not true for “older.”
8.In terms of etymology, both words have Middle English and Old English roots. Both were also in usage before the arrival of the 12th century.

Sharing is caring!

Read More ESL Articles

Search DifferenceBetween.net :

Email This Post Email This Post : If you like this article or our site. Please spread the word. Share it with your friends/family.

1 Comment

  1. I feel satisfied and assisted on your elaboration on the two adjectives.However it will be of more help if after explanation you give a sample of sentence on how to use each adjective

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

See more about : ,
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Finder